Carnegie Mellon University
June 09, 2022

Faculty, Students Top Off Costumes for 'The Music Man'

Pieces created by CMU School of Drama featured in the Tony-nominated revival

By Shannon Musgrave

Shannon Musgrave
  • School of Drama
  • 412-268-2068
Peter Kerwin
  • University Communications & Marketing

Hugh Hanson, associate teaching professor of costume production in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama, has worked with acclaimed designer Santo Loquasto for more than 20 years on productions ranging from Paul Taylor Dance to the Metropolitan Opera. So, when Loquasto invited Hanson to work with him on the Broadway revival of Meredith Wilson's "The Music Man," it was an easy yes. Loquasto designed the set and costumes for the production and brought Hanson on as a milliner.

Hugh HansonIn Hanson's long and storied career as both a designer and maker, it was his first time working on a production of "The Music Man." As milliner, he was tasked with the creation of 17 hats that would be worn in the production; and not only worn, but spun, twirled, leapt and danced in throughout the show.

"What's great is Santo and I have done so many dance productions together," said Hanson (left). "He'll say, 'Remember those hats you made for Paul Taylor? They really hugged to the head. I don't know what you did, but make these like that.'"

Hanson, who has been on faculty at the School of Drama since 2015, worked with Loquasto completely remotely throughout this process, building the hats in Pittsburgh and shipping them to New York. He built mock-ups of each hat and sent photos and dimensions to Loquasto, who would provide feedback via Zoom.

A triptych featuring the design and use of a hat
Santo Loquasto's design (left) led to Hugh Hanson's creation (center), worn by Jayne Houdyshell (right) in "The Music Man." (photo by Julieta Cervantes)

Hanson was not the only costume artisan from CMU that worked on "The Music Man." Evan Riley, a third-year costume design major spent the summer of 2021 assisting Loquasto in New York City. Riley had accepted an internship in New York that turned out to be part time, and was looking for an additional opportunity while he was there.

"I emailed my professor Susan Tsu and asked her about designers that might be working in the city, and the top of my list was Santo Loquasto," said Riley. "He agreed to meet with me, and eventually hired me to work with him for the summer."

Riley was not just a fan of Loquasto's work. He also had been following this revival of "The Music Man" since its announcement in 2019. Due to Broadway's shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the production was postponed, eventually opening on Feb. 10, 2022.

"It turned out to be such an amazing experience with Santo," said Riley. "He's very gracious, especially since I had very little experience. I was able to learn so much from him over the summer, from going to all the different fabric stores, to working in his studio and the stories he told me."

They worked together for two and a half months, shopping in the garment district, visiting the many costume shops, and shipping feathers and flowers to the milliners. Riley said Loquasto's deep understanding of the costumes, from research to design to construction, inspired him to think about his own design work in a more holistic way.

The production marks Riley's first Broadway credit, something he says is a bit surreal.

"It was crazy to see my name in the playbill," he said. "Especially because this is a show that I really liked, and even if I wasn't a part of it, I probably would have been following along and studying every photograph. But now when I look at the pictures and videos, I think 'Oh! I bought that fabric!' or 'I remember that swatch or that sketch.' It's just really special."

A triptych featuring a playbill, Evan Riley and a performance of the show
Santo Loquasto's design for the Wells Fargo Wagon scene (left), Evan Riley shopping for fabric in New York City (center), and the cast of "The Music Man" performs "Wells Fargo Wagon." (photo by Julieta Cervantes)

Celia Kasberg, who graduated in May with her Master of Fine Arts degree in costume production, and Philip Winter, a second-year undergraduate design student, also worked on the production as millinery assistants to Hanson. While he has brought students on as assistants on professional shows he has designed, this marked the first time he was able to do so as a maker.

"I want to do more of that," Hanson said. "I think it's a magnificent opportunity for students to get an education while also getting a little Broadway credit."

"The Music Man" is nominated for a total of six Tony Awards, including Best Costume Design of a Musical. The Tony Awards will be presented Sunday, June 12 on CBS and Paramount+. Carnegie Mellon University is the official higher education partner of the Tony Awards.

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